March 20, 2003
OSHA has cited Sea Island Company, Inc., for failure to protect workers from electrical hazards that contributed to a worker's death. OSHA is proposing a $63,000 penalty.

On Sept. 18, the day of the accident, employees were using a truck crane to remove and replace trees located near overhead power lines. The truck's crane was positioned near the 7,200-volt lines. While lifting one of the trees into place, wire mesh around the roots of the tree came in contact with the power lines, transmitting an electrical current down to a worker who was standing near the base of the crane. The worker was seriously injured by the ensuing electrical shock. He died Oct. 14.

The agency issued one willful citation to Sea Island Company, Inc., a grounds-maintenance and land development company, for allowing the crane to be operated near energized overhead power lines without taking any type of protective measures.

"If the employer had positioned the crane away from the power lines or had the power company de-energize the nearby lines, this tragedy could have been avoided," stated John Deifer, OSHA's Savannah area director.

Because electrocutions and shocks are a major cause of accidents in the Southeast, the agency is developing a program to address the hazards, including those associated with overhead power lines. The program will include training, outreach and compliance assistance, as well as strong and fair enforcement when employers expose workers to these dangerous conditions.

The company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


John L. Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health announced the appointment of John Ferris as OSHA's new Special Assistant for Emergency Preparedness. Ferris will coordinate OSHA's efforts to address emergency preparedness and response in workplaces around the nation.

Ferris comes to OSHA from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where he served for 13 years as a technical expert in chemical emergency preparedness and prevention. He led the team for the development of regulations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and the Clean Air Act's Risk Management Program. John also was the Co-chair of the EPA/OSHA Standing Committee that oversees the coordination of risk management program and process safety management regulations.

"John's skills and experience will serve OSHA well in working with other agencies and organizations to ensure that worker safety and health is addressed in emergency response and preparedness efforts," said Henshaw.

Ferris earned a Masters in Public Administration for George Washington University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo.


Professional Plastics, Inc., Denver, Colo., is facing multiple citations and proposed fines of $129,200 for alleged violations of workplace safety and health standards. The company, a plastic products distributor, is being cited for two alleged willful and two alleged serious violations, with a total proposed penalty of $129,200.

"Professional Plastics, Inc. failed to protect its employees from hazards which could contribute to amputation injuries," said Adam Finkel, regional director in Denver for OSHA. "The U.S. Labor Department will ensure that this employer takes responsibility to correct safety and health hazards for the long term."

The alleged willful violation is for inadequate guarding at the point of operation on a saw used to cut plastic materials. The company also was cited for a willful violation for failure to use lockout/tagout procedures that ensure machines will not start-up accidentally while they are being fixed or undergoing maintenance.

The alleged serious violations include failure to provide appropriate electrical disconnects and wiring and failure to provide training on hazardous chemicals.

The inspection of Professional Plastics, Inc. was conducted in September 2002 by OSHA's Denver area office as part of the agency's National Emphasis Program to reduce amputation hazards. OSHA inspections are conducted at establishments with a history of amputations and industries with an increased incidence of amputation hazards.

A serious violation is one where there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, involving a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. A willful violation is one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The company has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to decide to comply, to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


Helping small upstate New York employers ensure the safety of their employees around fall hazards and while using ladders is the goal of seminars being offered by the Buffalo office of OSHA in conjunction with area organizations and colleges.

The same seminar, on the topics of fall hazards and ladder safety, is being offered at six different locations during April as follows:

April 3, 2003
9:00 - 11:00 a.m. at Erie Community College South Campus, Orchard Park, NY
1:00 - 3:00 p.m. at NCCC Corporate Training Center, Lockport, NY

April 10, 2003
9:00 - 11:00 a.m. at Jamestown Community College, Jamestown, NY
1:00 - 3:00 p.m. at Jamestown Community College, Olean, NY

April 17, 2003
9:00 - 11:00 a.m. at Genesee Community College, Batavia, NY
1:00 - 3:00 p.m. at SUNY Brockport MetroCenter, Rochester, NY

"Protecting employees from fall hazards is a vital concern, since falls are a leading cause of injury and death in many industries," said Art Dube, OSHA's Buffalo area director. "This seminar will explain how a small business owner can take simple steps to ensure that employees are protected from fall hazards and dangerous ladder use."

The session is part of the OSHA Small Business Seminar Series covering a variety of topics that the federal agency will offer this year to assist small upstate New York employers in complying with workplace safety and health standards.

To register for one of the April seminars, and to obtain more information, contact Gordon DeLeys at the Buffalo OSHA Area Office at 716-684-3891, Ext. 244 or via e-mail at gordon.deleys@osha.gov.


The grain industry is a safer place to work since OSHA's Grain Handling Facilities Standard went into effect, according to a regulatory review of the standard. Since the standard was promulgated in 1987, there were 70% fewer fatalities and 55% fewer injuries from grain explosions, and the number of grain suffocations went down 44%. The review also found that implementation of the standard has not had a negative effect on the industry generally or on small businesses within the industry.

"It is important that we regularly review our standards," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "In this case the review showed that the standard is helping to save lives and has not had a negative effect on the industry. At the same time, the review pointed out some particular clarifications and changes that we can make to assist in compliance with the standard."

OSHA conducted its regulatory review of the Grain Handling Facilities Standard, under Section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act and Section 5 of Executive Order 12866, to determine if the standard is needed and if it should be amended. OSHA found that the standard has not had a negative impact on small businesses; the standard saves lives; and no major changes have occurred in technological, economic, or other factors that warrant a substantial revision of the standard.

Based on comments received during the review, OSHA will issue clarifications and consider possible improvements to the Grain Handling Facilities Standard, including whether the confined space requirements of the Grain Handling Standard should apply to all areas of grain storage facilities currently covered by the general Confined Spaces Standard. The agency will also consider updating references to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requirements that are in the Grain Handling Facilities Standard.

OSHA's Grain Handling Facilities Standard focuses on requirements for controlling grain fires, grain dust explosions, and hazards associated with entry into bins, silos, and tanks. Grain mills and grain elevators are the major sectors affected by the standard.

A summary of the report was published in the March 14, 2003 Federal Register. The full report will be posted on OSHA's web site at http://www.osha.gov. Print copies of the full report will be available shortly. To order a copy, contact OSHA at (800) 321-OSHA.